LSSSE 2010: Survey Indicates New Student-Centered Programs Are Making a Difference
The results of the 2010 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) offer significant evidence that the implementation of a variety of programs and services designed to enhance students' law school experience at Southwestern are having a positive impact.
Dr. Robert Mena, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Southwestern, said, "The results of our most recent LSSSE survey indicate that our students are saying Southwestern cares about them as people, that we want them to succeed academically and we provide the support for them to do so. It also shows that the relationships that they have with faculty, staff and their fellow students are supportive, helpful, encouraging and enhance their overall quality of life in law school."
Each spring, Southwestern students receive an email invitation from Dean Bryant Garth to participate in LSSSE. Co-sponsored by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the LSSSE survey is designed to collect information about student behaviors and law school environments throughout the country to help law faculty and administrators focus attention and resources in ways that will enhance student learning and law school effectiveness. It provides law schools with information they can use almost immediately to improve various aspects of their performance and help students get the most out of their law school experience. This is Southwestern's sixth year participating in the LSSSE program.
Dean Garth, who also chairs the Advisory Group that oversees the LSSSE administration, said, "It is very useful to have an objective tool to assess change at Southwestern and to compare ourselves to other schools, and it is wonderful that the LSSSE responses tell such a positive story of progress."
In 2010, Southwestern achieved its highest student participation rate in LSSSE to date with 74% of students responding, up 5% from 2009. A total of 24,000 students at 77 ABA-approved law schools took part in the 2010 LSSSE. Since its inception in 2004, 150 law schools have administered the annual survey. Each participating law school receives a report featuring comparisons between responses of their students and those from the other schools, as well as improvement from year to year on specific issues. Below are a few highlights from the 2010 LSSSE survey.
Academic Support Services
LSSSE results indicate that Southwestern students are very satisfied with the law school's efforts to help them succeed academically. Over the past years, the law school has seen a steady increase in student satisfaction with academic advising and planning. The data also indicates that Southwestern students are more satisfied with the level of library assistance they receive than at other LSSSE schools.
One of the most encouraging sets of data indicates that Southwestern students form strong bonds with their fellow colleagues, faculty and staff. Southwestern students indicated more supportive relationships with fellow law school students than other LSSSE participants. The students also self-report that the Southwestern faculty is available, supportive and helpful during their law school tenure. In their comments, several students concurred that "the greatest quality Southwestern has is the availability of its professors." Since first taking part in the survey in 2005, the law school has also shown an extraordinary increase in the quality of relationships that students have with staff members. Survey results indicate that students view staff members as helpful, considerate and an encouraging part of their law school experience.
It is no surprise that Southwestern students indicate that the law school is comprised of a very diverse student population. Students of all races and ethnicities expressed comparable confidence in feeling that Southwestern is committed to their academic success and preparing them to be successful on the bar exam on the first attempt. African American students gave Southwestern the strongest ratings for the school's emphasis on providing the support needed to help them succeed academically, which may be a direct result of the school's efforts in establishing a Diversity Affairs Office in recent years.
Students gave Southwestern its highest evaluation scores for their overall educational experience since the law school's initial participation in the survey. Southwestern earned its highest marks yet when students in all years were asked if they would attend the same law school again, and more of Southwestern's 2Ls and 3Ls answered "yes" to this question than LSSSE participants at other law schools.
According to Dean Garth, "We still have room for improvement, but it is nice to see confirmation that our faculty and staff are unique in their commitments both to professionalism and the success of every Southwestern student."